It’s all about the party vote. Electorate contests can be distracting, because in most cases they will be irrelevant to the result. A few electorate results will be critical, but only where they would allow a minor party to enter Parliament.
There are only a few electorates where the result may realistically impact on the overall election outcome. National has shown itself willing in the past to do deals with other parties on the right, and this is one of the reasons why National has been able to remain in power. Labour may need to follow National’s example if it wants to gain power. If Labour wants to be in government after the 2014 election, it may need to do what it previously considered unthinkable.
If a potential ally on the left is polling at 2-3% in the lead-up to the election and has a reasonable chance of winning an electorate seat, Labour must make that happen.
Such a move would require the Labour candidate to consider the good of the party and the need to win the election, ahead of his or her own ego. The candidate may be unhappy with the decision, but party discipline must be maintained.
Play by the rules as they have been laid down. If you don’t like the rules, you can always seek to change them when you are in government. But the rules apply to all parties. Use them to your advantage, because your opponents will use them.
The popularity of the current government suggests that the general public may care less about so-called dodgy deals than some politicians think.
You will need allies to win power. If you’re Labour it’s okay to dream about capturing 40% of the party vote, but it’s more important to be be realistic. On current polling Labour would do well to get 35% of the vote, so Labour will need at least one support party to win power, perhaps two, and maybe even three.
So during the election campaign, don’t go around pissing off or insulting the people you may need to work with in order to form a government.
Labour MPs must let the party’s leadership make decisions about political strategy. It is not the place of former leaders to opine publicly about who Labour should do deals with.
Pretend that we still have a First Past the Post electoral system.